Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a rising casualty figure due to the disease in Nigeria. The latest casualty figure has been put at 654.
But it has become more alarming when medical doctors and other health workers who are at the frontline demonstrating sterling heroism and professionalism and caring for members of the society who have contracted the virus are among those dying from the disease.
The country cannot afford to lose to COVID-19 health workers whose ranks have already been depleted by years of government neglect of their sector.
Over the years, the country has suffered doctors’ haemorrhage as they flee abroad for greener pastures, leaving behind their nation that cannot provide for them the basic environment in which they can serve their fellow Nigerians.
Already, Nigeria is far behind the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) physician-for-doctor ratio of one doctor per 600 patients. Nigeria’s current physician-per-patient ratio has been put at 36.6 doctors per 100,000 patients.
While every occupation has its own hazards, the fact is not vitiated that it is incumbent on all levels of government to reduce the exposure of doctors to avoidable fatal conditions in which they work while trying to save others from the grip of the virus.
The vulnerability of doctors can be checked if they are given the right environment in their fight against the pandemic . It disturbingly negates the efforts of the doctors to save COVID-19 patients if they must protest and go on strike before basic things like protective personal equipment are provided.
Worse still, the doctors’ allowances are not being paid and if at all they are paid, it is only after the health workers have successfully prised them from the authorities concerned. Yet, the doctors need all the concentration they can muster in their efforts to win the war against the pandemic.
The health workers have apparently been overwhelmed with the increasing cases of COVID-19. Therefore, one way we can protect them is by reducing the number of infected persons. This requires the commitment of all citizens to the fight against the pandemic.
Citizens should not cavalierly violate the COVID-19 protocols and expect doctors to care for them in isolation centres or hospitals. Citizens should come to terms with the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic and embrace necessary measures to protect themselves.This is more so when there is no scientifically certified cure for the disease for now.
The government should also live up to the responsibility of enforcing measures to stem the COVID-19 pandemic. They should demonstrate their seriousness by their adhering to the protocols themselves.
It is disheartening that government officials hold public meetings without putting on their face masks. Whether at political gatherings or funerals of public figures, this has been the seemingly unbroken pattern.
Such attitude seems to reify citizens’ cynicism that the notion of the existence of COVID-19 is another government propagandist stunt to abdicate their responsibilities to the citizens and in fact swindle them.
The government at at levels should further demonstrate their sincerity by being accountable. It should be seen that the funds meant for the fight against the pandemic are properly deployed.
Such accountability is a source of reassurance to the citizens who are watching and more importantly doctors and donors who are making sacrifices to ensure that the virus is defeated that their efforts are not in vain.